Bluehole and PlayerUnknown have delivered the Battle Royale game I have been waiting for. And they are just getting started. By now you would have to be living under a rock to not know about the popular genre of shooters called Battle Royale. Loosely based off a movie where a group of Japanese teens are dropped on an island and told to kill each other, the genre was basically invented by PlayerUnknown (Brendan Green) himself way back in the ARMA III days. From that first ARMA mod, arose countless similar games, with the same set of objectives. Drop on to an island, kill everyone, survive. The games became so common that Battle Royale ceased to mean a specific mod, and evolved in to its own genre. Several games had full-fledged releases, including H1Z1’s king of the kill, and The Culling. But now all of that is completely being blown out of the water, and the creator of the genre has returned, with PlayerUnknown’s Battle Grounds. Luckily for him, he’s not doing it alone, a team of over 30 people are hard at work in partnership with Blue Hole to bring the very best of his original vision to PC players worldwide.
If that doesn’t sell you on this game, let me make a comparison. This game is the perfect halfway point between ultra-realistic war sims, like ARMA III, and arcady shooters like what H1Z1: King of the Kill has become. It’s a game where you do have to lead a moving target, and where you won’t be hitting that person way off in the distance unless you zero your scope. It’s a game where jumping from a moving car will cause damage, and where you can shoot out the tires of a vehicle to disable it. But, its also a game that keeps to the core excitement of these type of Battle Royale games. Large periods of hi tension waiting peppered with short intense bursts of fighting, and that is its real strength.
I cant tell you how many times I have spent 10 or even 15 minutes just hiding in this game. I don’t think I have ever spent more time doing nothing in a game. But that nothing is just so fun. The feeling of coordinating with a team mate as you lie in wait in a bush, or behind a door while a car pulls up outside. Its second to none in gaming.
The game’s premise is so simple, but a few tweaks take it way beyond what H1Z1 has to offer right now. The first and one of the largest differences is how you get to the ground. Where other games just drop you randomly, in PUBG you have a good deal of control where you land. Each round and airplane travels in a straight line over the massive map, at a random angle. You can chose where to jump out of that plane, and steer towards your chosen destination. You can choose a well-populated, loot dense area. Where many players will drop. Or make your drop on to a less populated area, but risk not having any good loot. Choosing different location for drop’s is critical to good team and solo play.
There are several locations on the map where there is more than enough loot to go around, but landing there and not picking it up right away means certain death. Most of the games I have played in my over 40 hours of game play either end in those first few minutes, or last around 30 minutes. The only real exception to this is when you get caught out running.
Just like other survival games, this game has a variety of guns, meele weapons, grenades, and armor. Unlike other games there is no crafting present at all. There will be no clutch saves based on making bandages from extra bits you are carrying around. The game also has an interesting variety of melee weapons, a crowbar, a machete, and a frying pan.
Weapons are divided in to a few categories. Shotguns, Rifles, Sniper Rifles, SMG’s, and pistols. You can forget about that last one pretty much because you probably wont ever use it. That leaves four large categories of weapons, each of which has about 4 weapons in it. While this is by far not the most weapons in any battle royale style game, PUBG makes up for that with mods. Every weapon has a number of slots where you can add attachments, to make it more accurate, shoot faster, or shoot silently. Mods come in three basic varieties, with a little variation. There are scopes, magazines, and special adds. Shot guns get their own two additions, a choke (for tightening spread) and a set of bullet loops (to improve reload speed). Any weapons loaded by magazine can get one of two mods, a quick release mag and an extended mag. Both are pretty self-explanatory. For scopes the game features two non-magnifigying, a Red dot and holographic. There are also several scopes that give magnifications with 4X and 8x being most common and a rare 16x I have yet to see in the game. Beyond that there are a few other special add ons, including fore grips, tactical stocks, and silencers. These (except the silencers) tend to be mostly useless, but could in theory tip the balance in your favor.
Attachments and guns are plentiful in this game. There is very rarely a match where I drop in and end up with no loot at all. Houses usually contain at least one rife, or shotgun, and despite the seeming lack of variety in weapons (there are only 4 rifles, and 3 shot guns, as well as two SMG’s) I never felt like I didn’t have something to do. Weapons and ammo are plentifull, as you can hear in our interview linked above Player Unknown wanted this game to be more about the battles, then about the looting.
Matches tend to frantic to start, then take on a more relaxed pace until the map starts to close. Like the rest of the Battle Royale world this game features maps that close down to a very small area. In this case it’s a wall of blue electricity that does more damage and moves faster each round. During rounds 1-3 the wall does very little damage and its possibly to survive in if you move fast. I like this aspect it makes the game feel a little slower than some of its counter parts.
Overall this game feels more realistic to me than its competitors. I love how you can easily kill someone you get the drop on, and how the game manages to do such a good job balancing the weapons and ammo. I really didn’t die often and think well, fuck that dude just had better gear. Armor is a factor but with only 6 types in game (3 helmets, and 3 body armors) and the game having no crafting, its much more skill related than gear.
A good player playing solo will know that you should flee from most engagements, and never go looking for a fight. This is a game that rewards people who are slow and methodical, rather than those who run around shooting. I like that, and if you also enjoy a game that’s halfway between the realism of of the ARMA series and the arcady fun of H1Z1, this is the game for you. Player Unknowns Battle Grounds is available now on Stream for $30 US, and is in early access. More features, bug fixes, game modes, and private servers are planned for the future, but that is only the beginning. I cant wait to see where this game goes.